Weighing in at almost 1,000 miles of the 3,018 total trail miles, Montana is one big state. We’ve been pleasantly surprised by the state of Montana and after spending three weeks here, we still have almost two weeks left. Lucky for us, hundreds of miles of new tread have been built so we’ve been able to walk much of the state so far without getting lost in an open field, looking for any sign of a trail (ehem, New Mexico).
Montana has been a state of extremes. We started the state with a lot of time on the actual Continental Divide, where it was above tree line, exposed to the hot sun, and lacking much water. Lately we’ve been mostly covered by trees with small bouts above tree line, and the water has been more plentiful. Last week we experienced a thunderstorm nearly every single day, complete with lightning, thunder, and cold rain that left our shoes and socks wet for days. These last few days we’ve been in 90 degree temperatures with just a few clouds and not a drop of moisture. But as soon as the sun goes down, the temperatures plummet into the 30s and 40s. We start each day with nearly all our clothes on, only to strip down to our running shorts and t-shirt once the sun comes up. It seems that the state cannot make up its mind, whether it wants hot or cold temps, storms or clear skies, or flowing creeks or dry spells.
One thing that has been constant since the beginning is the amount of climbing and descending. It’s rare that we climb more than 1,000 or 1,500 feet, but it’s also rare that we’re walking on flat ground. The trail is either going up or down, and doing it all day. At the end of each day, we’re tired from all the constant work, but we’re not exhausted, so we’ve been able to keep a fairly steady pace throughout the state.
That’s a little glimpse into Montana. We still don’t have the state figured out yet, especially because we still have almost two weeks of hiking left in it, but we start each day knowing that the day will certainly be different than the one before.